NUR-SULTAN – Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev addressed the first session of the newly elected Kazakh Parliament Jan. 15. Political experts believe the Kazakh legislative body has a huge responsibility to ensure the reforms announced by Tokayev will come into effect.
Among the initiatives voiced by Tokayev were introducing a five percent electoral threshold for parties to be able to qualify for seats in the Majilis, instead of the current seven percent, introducing a ‘none of the above’ option on the electoral ballots, strengthening local government, developing a youth development index to evaluate the youth policies implemented by local executive bodies and expanding state support measures for charity activities.
“I am sure the new deputies will play a key role in providing legislative support for the reforms,” wrote Tokayev on his Twitter account after the session.
Sanat Kushkumbayev, deputy director of the Kazakh Institute of Strategic Studies, said that effective partnership between the government and the Parliament will also be important.
“The current composition of the Majilis should gear its expanded powers to approve the (government) cabinet and further control the government’s work. It is no coincidence that the President stressed all acute issues should be discussed in the Parliament,” said Kushkumbayev, as quoted by inform.kz.
He also noted the importance of decreasing the electoral threshold for parties.
In the Jan. 10 elections to the Majilis, the Auyl People’s Democratic Patriotic Party received 5.29 percent of the vote, close but not quite seven percent, according to Kushkumbayev.
“It is very important that all parties are represented in the maslikhats, the local representative bodies,” he said.
According to Andrey Chebotarev, director of the Alternativa center for contemporary studies, the change in electoral threshold and the proposed introduction of a ‘none of the above’ option in the electoral ballot is the state’s reaction to the suggestions made by Kazakh society and international observers.
“The majority of the remaining measures were announced by the president last year in his address to the nation and at the fourth meeting of the National Council of Public Trust. Each of them requires a separate analysis… to formulate further recommendations,” wrote Chebotarev on his Facebook page.
“The deputies of both chambers of the parliament have a big responsibility to ensure that the measures voiced by the president are implemented in a timely and effective manner. The public is also expected to participate in the development of these proposals. I understand the opinions of those sceptical of the government or the critics, but in my opinion, two steps forward are still better than one step back,” he wrote.